May 24, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Dan Walters: California’s sales tax is obsolete, needs to be fixed — Comprehensive sales tax reform should close at least some of the loopholes in the current system. It makes no sense, for example, to treat hot food and cold food differently for tax purposes, or to tax off-the-shelf computer software while exempting custom software from taxation.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 Gov. Jerry Brown pitches amnesty on traffic debt for poor — Calling California’s traffic court system a “hellhole of desperation” for the poor, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing an amnesty program for residents who can’t afford to pay off spiraling fines and penalties that have resulted in 4.8 million driver’s license suspensions since 2006. AP article


 Group says California immigration policies contributed to drought – In a television commercial that has aired across the state, a young boy asks: “If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?” The ad is part of a wider media campaign blaming California’s historic drought on the state’s large number of immigrants. The group that paid for it, Californians for Population Stabilization, has long called for stricter enforcement of immigration laws, arguing that the state’s natural resources cannot sustain high levels of population growth.LA Times article

 Other areas

Lois Henry: Child death records must remain open to the public – I was outraged to read in the Los Angeles Times Thursday that the State Department of Social Services planned to sneak a measure into a budget trailer bill that would have increased secrecy regarding the deaths of children who die of abuse or neglect. The proposed measure, as described by The Times, had nothing to do with protecting children. No, no, no.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

 Dan Schnur: Senate’s ban on fundraising during budget talks is vital step – The director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC writes, “For the next several weeks, the din of legislators and special interests tacitly trading money for votes will be significantly quieter. For that respite, give credit to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who last year instituted a rule that banned fundraising during state budget negotiations and during the final month of legislative session.” Schnur op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Sacramento Bee: Nonprofits take privacy claims even further – Once again, the super-rich will have an outsized voice in the 2016 elections. And once more, nonprofit groups will use state and federal law to shield donors from being publicly identified. Sacramento Bee editorial

Oakland protestors defy mayor by marching at night without permit – Protesters marched through Oakland streets after sunset Saturday in defiance of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s policy of shutting down unlawful assemblies at night in her effort to protect businesses from protest-related violence and vandalism. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Father of UCSB victim continues fight for gun reforms – Richard Martinez thinks of his son every day, and with those thoughts come the constant reminder of a young life cut tragically short by a troubled man with a gun. That is why, the 61-year-old attorney says, he crisscrosses the country, poking and prodding people to support what he calls reasonable gun-control laws. It has become his life. AP article

 After Senate vote, NSA prepares to shut down phone tracking program — Hours after the Senate balked at reauthorizing the bulk collection of U.S. telephone records, the National Security Agency began shutting a controversial program Saturday that senior intelligence and law enforcement officials say is vital to track terrorists in the United States.  LA Times article; AP article

 Carly Fiorina impresses in long-shot presidential bid — Carly Fiorina, the crowd-pleasing – if not first-tier – candidate for president, was midsentence at a dinner in Iowa last weekend when her microphone cut out, her allotted time up. The audience, wanting more, groaned in protest, then cheered. Sacramento Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

 California farm economy surprisingly resilient amid drought – Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent last year, to $33.09 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The revenue figures don’t take into account animal agriculture, such as beef and dairy production. Sacramento Bee article

 Big money, increasing acreage make almond latest water war villain – Every political cause needs a villain, and for many environmental activists who have weighed in on the state’s current water woes, that bad guy is the almond. Fresno Bee article

 Jobs and the Economy

 Stockton Record: 10 areas key to Stockton’s push to move forward – Moving forward, here are 10 areas where Stockton must grasp opportunities (they are not listed in order of importance). Stockton Record editorial

 Castle Air Force Base: The Past — When Castle’s closure was announced in 1991, the news was sad for Decker, but it was devastating for Merced County. Castle’s demise sent a shudder through the portion of the Merced County community whose identity was wrapped in the sprawling military base.  Merced Sun-Star article

 Booming San Francisco has bigger bonanza in store, strategists say – San Francisco ranks No. 22 on the performance now index. We may have Twitter, but we’re no New York, London, Paris, Tokyo or Hong Kong (Nos. 1 through 5, respectively). But where it really gets interesting is the rankings measuring cities’ potential to be booming in 2024. And that’s where San Francisco comes out on top. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Overvalued in Silicon Valley, but don’t say ‘tech bubble’ – It is a wild time in Silicon Valley. Two-year-old companies are valued in the billions, ramshackle homes are worth millions and hubris has reached the point where otherwise sane businesspeople muse about seceding from the United States. But the tech industry’s venture capitalists – the financiers who bet on companies when they are little more than an idea – are going out of their way to avoid the one word that could describe what is happening around them. Bubble.  New York Times article

 Fresno produce company provides fresh cut fruit, veggies – A summer job helping his father deliver boxes of vegetables to Fresno restaurants has turned into a growing and specialized enterprise for Mike Kahaian over the last 26 years. His company, 1st Quality Produce, provides school districts, restaurants, hotels and other food-service businesses statewide with fresh cut peppers, zucchini, and fruit including pineapple, mangoes and melons. Fresno Bee article

 In stadium financing game, Goldman Sachs dominates –- Goldman has seized an opportunity in an era when cities and states are increasingly leery of subsidizing sports palaces for billionaires. The firm offers the next-best thing: upfront Wall Street money, along with help crafting creative deals that maximize a team’s profits and minimize its taxes. LA Times article

 Low-income homeowners get solar free panels thanks to cap and trade – Run by Oakland nonprofit Grid Alternatives, the effort will install home solar arrays in disadvantaged neighborhoods, using $14.7 million raised through California’s cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions. That system forces factories, power plants, oil refineries and other large businesses to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases they pump into the atmosphere. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Sacramento seeks to accommodate, limit Airbnb rentals – Sacramento is joining a long list of cities in California and across the country grappling with how to regulate rooms offered for short-term rental under the home-sharing website Airbnb. So far, it looks like the capital is taking a gentler approach to the burgeoning business, compared with some coastal cities. Sacramento Bee article

Laguna Beach imposes 45-day moratorium on short-term rentals — The Laguna Beach City Council has declared a 45-day moratorium on new short-term rentals, becoming the latest Southern California city to regulate a rapidly growing industry. LA Times article

 Records show inconsistent exemptions on Sacramento County fees — In recent years, the county has stepped up its code enforcement, trying to improve the appearance of certain business districts and residential neighborhoods. But the county has shown a willingness to waive fees as complaints from cited property owners have also increased, county officials said and records show. The willingness to give some businesses a break has frustrated some former and current code enforcement employees – including a former division head who resigned in January – and has led to claims of favoritism among property owners. Sacramento Bee article

 As farms fade, will developers move in? — Development has long divided San Diegans like no other issue; the “smokestacks vs. geraniums” debate has raged here for a full century. Now a new element has intruded: California’s worsening water shortage.  San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Catherine Fisk: Hollywood should stop discriminating against female directors – The chancellor’s professor of law at UC Irvine writes, “The American Civil Liberties Union has compiled powerful evidence of pervasive discrimination against female directors based on data from the industry, scholars and interviews with 50 female directors.” Fisk op-ed in Sacramento Bee


 Water wasters seldom penalized  – New water-saving rules in San Joaquin County and throughout California come with a hammer. Whether anyone will swing it is another matter. Stockton Record article

 How much are you using water? Understanding your bill can help you track your usage – Want to boost your water conservation IQ? Understanding that cryptic water bill might be a good start. Stockton Record article

 Conservation onus is on us — Now it’s our turn. After months of frantic government maneuvering in response to the drought, the dust is settling. Guidelines to help us through the long, dry summer ahead are beginning to emerge. The question now: Will the public — both residential and commercial — do its part? Stockton Record article

Fake grass gains ground in California amid concerns about ongoing drought – After four blistering years of drought in California, more people are doing it. The fake grass business is booming, much to the chagrin of some environmentalists and live-grass purists. Washington Post article

 Groundwater contamination a growing problem in LA County wells – Contaminated wells are an increasing problem in Los Angeles County, according to a new analysis of state dataperformed by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. There are less-polluted wells that remain in service: they pump out contaminated water and need to undergo costly purification before it is routed to faucets in homes and offices.  LA Times article

 Area reservoirs remain a big draw despite drought – As California enters its fourth year of unprecedented drought, the once-plentiful water in snowmelt-filled lakes continues to shrink dramatically. Still, all of the area’s recreational reservoirs and lakes are open for swimming, boating, fishing and other water sports. Modesto Bee article

 Sacramento Bee: Stormwater can’t go to waste in drought – As California’s population grows and climate change continues, stormwater could become even more important untapped source. Sacramento Bee editorial

Steve Lopez: At 50 gallons a week, widow knows just how precious water is — Doris Tillman got a jump on the rest of us when it comes to water conservation. The 71-year-old South Los Angeles homeowner had no choice. Lopez column in LA Times

Nevada ads use humor and a kick in the crotch to sway water-wasting guys – The Southern Nevada Water Authority determined nearly a decade ago that 70% its water went right into the ground, with no chance for recycling, thanks to an army of indulgent blue-collar homeowners, mostly married guys, who over-watered their lawns. LA Times article

 Protestors march against ag giant Monsanto — Beekeepers. Physicians. Organic farmers. Preschool teachers. Parents of autistic kids. Those were some of the groups represented Saturday in a march against the controversial biotech and agricultural giant Monsanto, which is often cast as Public Enemy No. 1 by those opposed to genetically modified foods. San Francisco Chronicle article; San Diego Union-Tribune article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Lewis Griswold: Tulare County courts to launch DUI, DV courts – Tulare County Superior Court is starting both a DUI court and a domestic violence court, making it among the first in the state to create the calendars.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

 Gerald Haslam: Police should reflect the communities they serve – The Oildale native and Valley author writes, “Police and police-community relations are too essential to a functioning society to tolerate marginal or bigoted candidates, since in the long run, we must trust our police officers, and they must trust us to support them, since the public’s trust is their greatest weapon.” Haslam op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Witness: K-9 relentless in attack on woman – A number of questions remain unanswered as the Stockton Police Department continues its administrative review of an incident in which a 62-year-old woman was mistakenly bitten by a police dog during a training exercise. Stockton Record article

 San Jose police auditor voices serious concerns about policy governing officer body cameras — A pilot program finally underway to outfit San Jose cops with body-worn cameras is a big step for a city trying to stay ahead of the police accountability headaches plaguing other parts of the country. But the city’s civilian police watchdog worries a recently minted use policy, as written, gives so much discretion to officers that it undermines the public transparency that the cameras are meant to bolster.  San Jose Mercury News article


 Fresno Bee: Don’t deny students a CSU education – If Gov. Brown is serious about making his “California Comeback” a reality, he’ll carve out $59 million more from the state’s projected $3 billion budget surplus and send it to the CSU. Fresno Bee editorial

 David Mas Masumoto: Finding the right words for your graduate — What do you say to a graduate? What to write in a graduation card? What are you really thinking during a graduation ceremony? Here are a few thoughts, gleaned from others and things I’ve heard over the years.  Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

 Modesto Junior College to toast 50 years of nursing graduates — The associate’s degree nursing program at Modesto Junior College will celebrate its 50th graduation in June. Over the past half century, MJC has graduated 4,128 nurses from the program.  Modesto Bee article

 Violence causes ripple effects for thousands of Oakland students — Oakland’s first homicide victim of 2014 was a boy named Lee Weathersby III. He was shot on New Year’s Eve and died early the next morning. Police say it appears he was not the intended target of the shooting. Lee would have turned 14 that year. His death hit his middle school, Alliance Academy, hard. KQED report

 Tyree Reed reaches college graduation milestone — There were plenty of times in the last seven years when Tyree Reed didn’t think he’d make it to Thursday’s West Hills College Lemoore graduation. His Tourette’s Syndrome, an incurable neurological condition, was making it tough. Anxiety interfered. Concentration was difficult. Hanford Sentinel article

 Joined at the hip: Kindergarten teachers end 22-year run as partners in education — If fate had worked out differently, Jane Williams and Sue Stuart would have met as freshman at San Joaquin Delta College in the fall of 1967. Instead, they became forever linked in 1993, more than halfway through their 46-year teaching careers, and while they didn’t start together, they’re finishing together. Stockton Record article


 Pipeline that leaked wasn’t equipped with auto shut-off – The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three decades ago, a county official said. AP article

 Santa Barbara County oil cleanup continues; pipeline may be dug up soon – A section of oil pipeline that ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of crude along the Santa Barbara County coast could be dug up by the end of the holiday weekend, authorities said, giving them the first opportunity to determine what caused the break. LA Times article

Dan Morain: Using windfalls and paper to fight climate change – Amid much pomp, Gov. Jerry Brown and dignitaries from Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States gathered at the meticulously restored Stanford Mansion last week. There, they signed a piece of paper. Morain in Sacramento Bee

 San Onofre deal concocted in secret – The public was none the wiser. All the key parties in the room for the only public hearing on the $4.7 billion settlement agreement for shutdown costs at the failed San Onofre nuclear plant knew that the pact had its origins at a secret meeting in Poland. San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Cary Catalano: Every part of Fresno needs more parks – The Fresno Planning Commission member writes, “You and I — and our entire Fresno community — need to work with the city, give our input and engage our voices so together we assure our quality of life is improved and our parks, both established and new, are all they can be. I’m ready. Will you join me?” Catalano op-ed in Fresno Bee

Health/Human Services

 Cameron Carter, Frederick Meyers and Darrell Steinberg: It’s time for insurers to close the mental health gap for youths – Carter and Meyers of UC Davis and Steinberg, director of policy and advocacy at the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at UC Davis and founder of the Steinberg Institute, write, “The Mental Health Services Act is driving innovation through the public mental health system. It’s time more political leaders in California fully support comprehensive mental health care services for all our precious youths. And it’s time that health plans recognize it’s in their financial interest to cover them.”  Carter/Meyers/Steinberg op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Land Use/Housing

 Woman plans chicken ranch in incorporated Lodi — A resident’s plan to raise hundreds of chickens in unincorporated Lodi is being considered by San Joaquin County’s Community Development Department. Thuy Phan has applied for a site approval to raise 1,500 roosters and chickens a year for live sale on a 14-acre parcel at 5302 E. Morse Road. Stockton Record article


LAX predicts a record number of summer travelers: 24.6 million — Los Angeles International Airport is expected to be even more crowded than usual this summer when it serves a record 24.6 million passengers. LA Times article

 Other areas

 Zapien calls to move San Joaquin County supervisors meeting to the evenings – Stockton City Councilman Moses Zapien would like to move San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meetings to the evenings. Zapien, who is running for the supervisorial District 3 seat on the board, made the announcement Friday morning. Stockton Record article

 Mike Klocke: Stockton news brings forth Stockton views – The past week was a busy one for Stockton city government. Here are some views on the news.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

 Lawyers battle with own bar – Twenty-eight lawyers in this area have been punished by the California State Bar in the past five years for stealing from clients, fabricating documents, lying to judges, domestic violence, drug possession and more, a Modesto Bee analysis finds. Modesto Bee article; ‘Disciplined attorney’ in Modesto Bee

 Modesto’s State Theatre plays host to 80 years of memories — While this may be the age of mega-cineplexes, IMAX offerings and 3D motion-seating, the decidedly old-school appeal of the State Theatre continues to charm and attract audiences.  Modesto Bee article

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Santa Barbara spills underscores the need to go green; If Gov. Brown is serious about making his “California Comeback” a reality, he’ll carve out $59 million more from the state’s projected $3 billion budget surplus and send it to the CSU.

Sacramento Bee – If Gov. Brown is serious about making his “California Comeback” a reality, he’ll carve out $59 million more from the state’s projected $3 billion budget surplus and send it to the CSU; Once again, the super-rich will have an outsized voice in the 2016 elections. And once more, nonprofit groups will use state and federal law to shield donors from being publicly identified.

Stockton Record – Moving forward, here are 10 areas where Stockton must grasp opportunities (they are not listed in order of importance).


 Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

 Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge

 Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

 LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

 Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

 Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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